England: Activists to be spared jail for stopping deportation flight

England: Activists to be spared jail for stopping deportation flight

A group of activists who were prosecuted under terrorism legislation after taking action to halt a deportation flight will be spared jail.

The “Stansted 15”, members of a group called End Deportations, appeared before Judge Christopher Morgan in Chelmsford Crown Court for sentencing today.

The activists took non-violent direct action to prevent the deportation of 60 people on a charter flight bound for Ghana and Nigeria. At least two of the 60 people have since been granted permission to stay in the UK.

London firm Hodges Jones & Allan, representing the group, said on Twitter that the judge had indicated that three activists will receive suspended sentences and 12 will receive community orders.

However, the activists still plan to appeal their convictions for “endangering safety at aerodromes”, a serious terrorism-related charge with a maximum penalty of a life sentence.

A spokesperson for End Deportations said: “Whatever the sentences handed down by Judge Christopher Morgan, the terror convictions have profound implications for the lives of the Stansted 15, severely restricting their ability to work, travel and take part in everyday life.

“The convictions themselves are the first use of controversial terror legislation passed in the aftermath of the Lockerbie bombing against peaceful protesters and, whatever happens with the sentencing, they have profound implications for the right to peaceful protest in the UK, and for democracy.”

Kate Allen, UK director of human rights group Amnesty International, said: “The decision not to jail these brave human rights defenders is a relief, but not enough. They should never have faced this very serious terrorism-related charge in the first place.

“They remain convicted of an offence which simply doesn’t fit their actions and their trial could have a dangerous chilling effect on peaceful protest in this country. We hope the Court of Appeal will swiftly put an end to the distressing ordeal that the Stansted 15 have faced for nearly two years.”

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